ride 4 education - royal drakensberg mtb challenge - 08 April 2017
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Royal Drak MTB
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Royal Drakensberg Primary School we decided to create an event that would enable participants to experience the essence of what the school was founded on - a deep appreciation of family, community and this incredibly beautiful place that we call home.
We moved away from a traditional race format to a day of celebration and fun. Participants were welcomed in the morning with breakfast and coffee, before starting out on the route of their choice. There were 3 routes offered - 50km, 30km and 10km - all groomed and marked to race standard, and fully supported by teams of enthusiastic and friendly marshals. The 10km route was open for runners and walkers too. Along each route there were places to stop and swim, and enjoy the refreshment tables that were stocked with tea and scones, snacks and even cold beers and bubbly. The day was all about giving people a chance to really enjoy the mountains, the trails, the hospitality and each other, rather than racing around trying to finish in the quickest time possible.
The routes themselves took in all the highlights of the Drakensberg Trails system. The 50km route was designed to be much more achievable this year, omitting the 7km climb up the concrete strip to Greenfire, in favour of a saner route down in the valley. The route started on the Berm Trail, which meant that the fun began right away - no need for that big slog before the reward of the downhill! This left the riders with enough in the tank to really make the most of the Grotto trail, with its hand carved single track, exposed traverses and long flowing downhills. In years past many riders have been so tired by the time they got there that they would just survive the trail. This year they really relished it!
The 30km route was, as always, a proper ride! All single track with some good climbs, fast descents, and amazing scenery. Riders loved the tea and scones at the water table at the Montusi Dam, so much so that a couple considered calling it a day right there!
The 10km route was our most popular this year - walkers, runners, cyclists of all ages - from little people on strider bikes to grannies and grandads. Everybody was up for the challenge. They were well rewarded at the half way point with a slip ‘n slide and tea and scones. Some of the very little people opted for a lift back to All Out in the bakkie after all the excitement, and spent the rest of the morning in the Kids Zone, being entertained by the lovely staff of the Royal Drakensberg Primary school.
On returning from the ride, participants were spoiled with spot prizes, and everyone enjoyed a lunch fest in the beautiful Bedouin tent. Our sponsors from around the valley and further afield provided a delicious spread of food and plenty of cold beer, and the Vinimark Bubbles Table serving bubbly and pink wine was a special treat!
The goodie bag that the participants received also included a free Kids Zone access, and a voucher for an Adventure Ride, so the fun didn’t stop! In order to participate in the 2017 Royal Drak, each person had to raise R1000 for Royal Drakensberg Primary School. The enthusiastic response from the participants was so heart-warming. Riders and runners were assisted in their efforts by being provided with 10 raffle tickets that they could sell for R100 each.
Raffle participants stood the chance of winning one of six weekends away. The draw was done once everyone had returned, and the winners were thrilled with their prizes. We thank aha Alpine Heath, Montusi Mountain Lodge, The Cavern, Clifton Stud in Rosetta, Kings Grant in Ixopo and Sungubala Eco-Camp for their generosity.
None of this would be possible without the incredible support from our sponsors. We are so grateful for the generous sponsorship we receive each year from the N3TC, aha Alpine Heath, Montusi Mountain Lodge and The Cavern Drakensberg Resort and Spa.  Our goodie bag, product and prize sponsors also add so much to the day and so a big thank you is due to Bergville Spar, Vinimark, Valley Bakery, Tower of Pizza, MSC Agencies, Hugatree Photography and Sesisonke Farming.
Another amazing part of the day was sharing it with our neighbours. Many of the landowners who allow us to traverse their beautiful properties, are not actually cyclists, and so they don’t usually attend the races. The relaxed and social format for this year enabled them to be a part of the whole event, and they got to experience first-hand just how much the participants love and appreciate the trails. We are so blessed by what is made possible through the hospitality of our neighbours.
This year’s Royal Drak MTB Challenge was about more than just the riding. It was a wonderful coming together of so many people for a very special cause.
Royal Drakensberg Primary is more than just a school. It is a very real expression of what is possible when we are willing to go beyond ourselves. What started as a solution to a personal challenge - "Where are we going to educate our kids?", grew quickly into an initiative that stands to benefit the whole community. What Royal Drakensberg provides now is an opportunity for rural school children from disadvantaged homes to have access to a world class education. Most off the schools in this area are overcrowded and underfunded, and South Africa’s children deserve better. Royal Drakensberg Primary is example what can be accomplished in a rural area and with limited means. On paper it shouldn’t work, but miraculously, in practice it does. The reason for this simple: Grace. God’s grace, the grace of our staff and management who bring their love, expertise and deep commitment to the school, and, beautifully show cased at the Royal Drak MTB Challenge, the gracious generosity of all our supporters. Thank you for being part of this miracle.
Copyright © 2017 Royal Drakensberg Primary School, All rights reserved.

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